Sam Kerr goes from grinning youngster to global superstar
WHO would have thought 11 years ago that the girl with the cheeky smile, pictured second from the left on the front row of the Under-15 State girls team, would one day be amongst the world's best.
But a few short months later Samantha Kerr, who was vice-captain of that WA side, had been snapped up by Perth Glory's senior side to play in the Australian W-League - and then had been picked at the age of 15 to make her senior international debut for Australia in a game against Italy in 2009.
She is now acknowledged as one of the best female footballers in the world after a string of stunning performances at international level, in the US women's league and in the W-League.
Kerr has earned awards galore in the past few years, but there was disappointment last weekend when the 25-year-old striker/midfielder was named as the the world’s fifth-best female player in the inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or, which is awarded by France Football magazine.
Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg won the prestigious award, which she described as “a huge step for women’s football” after it was presented for the first time in the female category.
She scored a tournament-record 15 goals for her French club Lyon in the Women’s European Champions League last season.
Pernille Harder, Dzsenifer Maroszan, Marta and Kerr rounded out the top five in voting.
Kerr was considered to be one of the front-runners for the award after starring for her clubs – Perth Glory and Chicago Red Stars – and country, winning the Golden Boot as top scorer in the W-League and American NWSL.
She scored 13 goals for Glory during the 2017-18 W-League campaign before finding the net another 16 times with Chicago Red Stars.
Kerr also helped Australia reach the AFC Women’s Asian Cup final, which the Matildas lost to Japan in April, and has scored eight goals in 19 international appearances in 2018 alone. All up she has played 72 times for the Matildas, scoring 27 goals. One of those goals was the winner when Australia beat South Korea to clinch the Asian Cup in 2010.
It is the second time in 2018 that Kerr has missed out on a global award.
She was short-listed in the Top 10 for the Best FIFA Women's Player in September, but lost out to Brazilian Marta with Hegerberg and Moroszan making up the leading three.
Kerr was listed as finishing ninth in the poll, with 6.78 per cent of the votes.
However, no one was more surprised at winning the FIFA award than Marta, who later revealed that she had voted for Kerr in the ballot. Marta received 14.73 per cent of the votes.
But one global award which Kerr did snare in 2018 was the ESPY trophy, which she received in Los Angeles in July.
The ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards, held annually, recognise individual and team athletic achievements and other sports-related performances.
She added another honour to her long list of achievements when winning the Leadership Legend accolade at the Women's Health Women in Sport Awards in October, beating out a strong six-woman shortlist to claim the award at a ceremony in Sydney.
The inspirational Glory star was recognised for displaying exceptional leadership on and off the pitch and for helping to increase the profile of women in sport.
The other nominees were Ashleigh Hewson (rugby union), Belinda Snell (basketball), Harriet Brown (ironwoman), Lydia Lassila (aerial skiing) and Corporal Sonya Newman (swimming).
In January 2018 Kerr was named Young Australian of the Year, the award which recognises outstanding and exceptional young Australians between the ages of 16 and 30.
Other sports stars to receive the accolade, which is awarded by the Australian Government, include Casey Stoner, Lleyton Hewitt, Ian Thorpe and Cathy Freeman.
**FOR the record, the others pictured in the Under-15 State team which took part in the 2007 national youth championships are: Sadie Lawrence, Renae Rendell, Kendra Pease, Jennifer Chantler, Rebecca Davies, Carla Bennett, Nicola Williams (coach), Amanda Tana (assist coach), Rebecca Bennett, Lindsey Kenyon, Ashlee Byrne, Hollie Farrell, Amanda Figliomeni (manager), Lauren (physio), Joanne Randazzo Jaymee Gibbons (captain), Corrin Walmsley (joint vice-capt), Emily Dunn, Rachael Smith.
Also pictured: Sam Kerr with her ESPYS award.